Climate Smart Agricultural Policy Requires a Reform of Incentives to Minimize Emissions From Cultivated Peat Soils


Post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) must safeguard and stimulate the preservation of carbon-rich soils through protection of peatlands. Functional peatlands are the most space efficient long-term carbon store and sink in our planet’s biosphere.

Map showing total greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture on peatlands in the EU Member States. Map: Greifswald Mire Centre (Click on the image to enlarge)

However, croplands on peat soils are currently large emission sources and they account for more than 25% of total emissions from agriculture and agricultural land use in the northern Europe. A group of leading peatland experts compiled recommendations for climate smart actions based on their recent studies on cultivated peatlands. If we want to continue productive land use on peatlands, a paradigm shift is required involving new concepts, crops and techniques as well as adjustments of the current agricultural policy framework.

“The emissions from managed peatlands can be significantly reduced by raising water levels near to the surface (e.g. by drain blocking, stop pumping in polders), which reduces emissions and protects the remaining peat carbon store,” advises research professor Kristiina Regina from Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

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Image via Natural Resources Institute Finland